Question: Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist?
What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition
of our nation's air and water supply?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Off-road diesel engines, we a reached an agreement to
reduce pollution from off-road diesel engines by 90 percent.
I've got a plan to increase the wetlands by 3 million.
We've got an aggressive brownfield program to refurbish inner- city
sore spots to useful pieces of property.
I proposed to the United States Congress a Clear Skies Initiative to
reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury by 70 percent.
I fought for a strong title in the farm bill for the conservation reserve
program to set aside millions of acres of land for -- to help improve
wildlife and the habitat.
proposed and passed a healthy forest bill, which was essential to working
with -- particularly in western states -- to make sure that our forests
were protected. What happens in those forests, because of lousy federal
policy, is they grow to be -- they are not -- they're not harvested,
they're not taken care of. And as a result, they're like tinderboxes.
And over the last summers, I've flown over there.
And so this is a reasonable policy, to protect old stands of trees
and at the same time, make sure our forests aren't vulnerable to the
forest fires that have destroyed acres after acres in the West. We got
a good, common-sense policy.
Now, I'm going to tell you what I really think is going to happen over
time is technology is going to change the way we live for the good for
the environment. That's why I proposed a hydrogen automobile, hydrogen-generated
automobile. We're spending a billion dollars to come up with the technologies
to do that.
That's why I'm a big proponent of clean coal technology, to make sure
we can use coal but in a clean way. I guess you'd say I'm a good steward
of the land. The quality of the air is cleaner since I've been the president.
Fewer water complaints since I've been the president. More land being
restored since I've been the president.
Thank you for your question.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.
SEN. KERRY: Boy, to listen to that, the president I don't think is living
in a world of reality with respect to the environment. Now, if you're
a Red Sox fan, that's okay, but if you're a president, it's not.
Let me just say to you, number one, don't throw the labels around. Labels
don't mean anything. I supported welfare reform. I led the fight to
put 100,000 cops on the streets of America. I've been for faith-based
initiatives helping to intervene in the lives of young children for
years. I was -- broke with my party in 1985, (when/one of ?) the first
three Democrats to fight for a balanced budget, when it was heresy.
Labels don't fit, ladies and gentlemen.
Now when it comes to the issue of the environment, this is one of the
worst administrations in modern history. The Clear Skies bill that he
just talked about, it's one of those Orwellian names you pull out of
the sky, slap it onto something. Like No Child Left Behind but you leave
millions of children behind, here they're leaving the skies and the
environment behind. If they just left the Clean Air Act all alone the
way it is today, no change, the air would be cleaner than it is if you
passed the Cleaner Skies Act.
going backwards. In fact, his environmental enforcement
chief air quality person at the EPA resigned in protest over what
they're doing to what are called the new source performance standards
for air quality. They're going backwards on the definition for wetlands.
They're going backwards on the water quality. They've pulled out of
the Global Warming, declared it dead, didn't even accept the science.
I'm going to be a president who believes in science.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. President?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, had we joined the Kyoto Treaty -- which I guess
he's referring to -- it would have cost America a lot of jobs. It's
one of these deals where in order to be popular in the halls of Europe
you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot of -- I think there's
a better way to do it.
And I just told you the facts, sir. The quality of air is cleaner since
I've been the president of the United States. And we'll continue to
spend money on research and development, because I truly believe that's
the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard
of living that we're accustomed to and being able to protect our environment
better, the use of technologies.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
SEN. KERRY: The fact is that the Kyoto Treaty was flawed. I was in Kyoto
and I was part of that; I know what happened. But this president didn't
try to fix it, he just declared it dead, ladies and gentlemen. And we
walked away from the work of 160 nations over 10 years.
You wonder, Nicky (sp), why it is that people don't like us in some
parts of the world. You just say, Hey, we don't agree with you, good-bye.
The president's done nothing to try to fix it. I will.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, the next question is for you. It involves
jobs, which is a topic in the news today. And for the question, we're
going to turn to Jane Barrow (sp).
Question: Senator Kerry, how can the U.S. be competitive in a manufacturing
given -- in manufacturing -- excuse me -- given the wage necessary and
comfortably accepted for American workers to maintain the standard of
living that they expect?
SEN. KERRY: Jane (sp), there are a lot of ways to be competitive. And
unfortunately, again, I regret this administration has not seized them
and embraced them.
Let me give you an example. There's a tax loophole right now. If you're
a company in St. Louis working, trying to make jobs here, there's actually
an incentive for you to go away. You get more money, you can keep more
of your taxes by going abroad. I'm going to shut that loophole, and
I'm going to give the tax benefit to the companies that stay here in
America to help make them more competitive.
Secondly, we're going to create a manufacturing jobs credit and a new
jobs credit for people to be able to help hire and be more competitive
here in America.
what's really hurting American business, more than
anything else, is the cost of health care. Now, you didn't hear any
plan from the president, because he doesn't have a plan to lower the
cost of health care. Five million Americans have lost their health care;
620,000 Missourians have no health care at all; 96,000 Missourians have
lost their health care under President Bush. I have a plan to cover
those folks. And it's a plan that lowers costs for everybody, covers
all children. And the way I pay for it -- I'm not fiscally irresponsible
-- is I roll back the tax cut that this president so fiercely wants
to defend, the one for him and me and Charlie. I think you ought to
get the break.
I want to lower your cost of health care. I want to fully fund education
-- No Child Left Behind, special needs education. And that's how we're
going to be more competitive, by making sure our kids are graduating
from school and college.
China and India are graduating more graduates in technology and science
than we are.
We've got to create the products of the future. That's why I have a
plan for energy independence within 10 years. And we're going to put
our laboratories and our colleges and universities to work. And we're
going to get the great entrepreneurial spirit of this country, and we're
going to free ourselves from this dependency on Mideast oil. That's
how you create jobs and become competitive.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. President, minute and a half.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start with how to control the cost of health
care: medical liability reform, for starters, which he's
Secondly, allow small businesses to pool together so they can share
risk and buy insurance at the same discounts big businesses get to do.
Thirdly, spread what's called health savings accounts. It's good for
small businesses, good for owners. You own your own account. You can
save tax free. You get a catastrophic plan to help you, own it. This
is different from saying, okay, let me incent you to go on the government.
talking about his plan to keep jobs here. You know, he
calls it an outsourcing, to keep -- stop outsourcing. Robert Rubin
looked at his plan and said it won't work. The best way to keep jobs
here in America is, one, have an energy plan -- I proposed one to the
Congress two years ago, encourages conservation; encourages technology
to explore for environmentally friendly ways for coal and use coal and
gas; it encourages the use of renewables like ethanol and biodiesel;
it's stuck in the Senate -- he and his running mate didn't show up to
vote when they could've got it going in the Senate -- less regulations
if we want jobs here; legal reform, if we want jobs here, and we've
got to keep taxes low.
Now, he says he's only going to tax the rich. Do you realize 900,000
small businesses will be taxed under his plan because most small businesses
are Sub-chapter S corps or limited partnerships, and they pay tax at
the individual income tax level. And so when you run up the taxes like
that, you're taxing job-creators, and that's not how you keep jobs here.
MR. GIBSON: Senator, I want to extend for a minute. You talk about
tax credits to stop outsourcing. But when you have IBM documents that
I saw recently, where you can hire a programmer for $12 in China, $56
an hour here, tax credits won't cut it in that area, will it?
SEN. KERRY: You can't stop -- you can't stop all outsourcing, Charlie.
I've never promised that, I'm not going to because that would be pandering.
You can't. But what you can do is create a fair playing field, and that's
what I'm talking about.
let me just address what the president just said. Ladies and
gentlemen, that's just not true what he said. The Wall Street Journal
said 96 percent of small businesses are not affected at all by my plan.
And do you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a
timber company that he owns and he's counted as a small business. Dick
Cheney's counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's
just not right.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I own a timber company? (Laughter.) That's news to me!
(Laughs; laughter.) Need some wood? (Laughter.)
Most small businesses are Sub-chapter S corps, they just are. I met
Grant Miliron (sp), Mansfield, Ohio. He's creating jobs. Most small
businesses -- 70 percent of the new jobs in America are created by small
His taxes are going up when you run up the top two brackets. It's a